This has been a busy week in both Brussels and Westminster. Boris Johnson’s arrogant and ridiculous statement to the House of Commons that so far as honouring the UK’s financial commitments the EU could “Go whistle!” seems a long time ago. A few days later Michel Barnier’s rather dry response that: "I'm not hearing any whistling, just the clock ticking," seemed rather apt since by the end of the week the UK Government has conceded it will pay something.
This reveals the process for the farce that it is. The worry is that it is too easy to just laugh at the madness and move on, but the dangers we face are far too serious for that. The Great Repeal Bill was published this week and is everything I feared it would be:Read more
Another week, another lie of the Leave campaign exposed for what it was. This time, it was the turn of the nonsense peddled about Turkey’s application to join the EU. My fellow MEPs and I passed a further report on Turkey’s application to join the EU. It re-stated our position to freeze all membership negotiations. For those of you interested, point 7 is the key line:
“[The European Parliament] Recalls its position from November 2016 to freeze the accession process with Turkey;”
The full text is of the report is available here:
So, the UK has finally put forward its generous offer to EU citizens – so generous, it removes their rights.
The major contention is that the UK is still refusing to accept the role of the European Court of Justice because the Government is listening to the militant Brexiteers of the UKIP and the Tory party rather than behaving rationally. Ultimately, as Michel Barnier the EU negotiator has said, the UK needs “more ambition, clarity and guarantees.”Read more
The negotiations have begun. I wondered how I'd feel watching the Tory minister negotiating away our future. Now I know. Angry. Scotland deserves better than this, as does the UK as a whole.
Once again, we've seen that Tory Prime Ministers prioritise their own party's stability over all else. It's painfully clear that the UK Government is woefully under-equipped to speak up for our country in global negotiations.
This was revealed as the UK caved to every single EU demand on day one. The promise from David Davis that the debate over the sequencing of negotiations would be "row of the summer" never emerged as he stood in the EU Commission press room announcing that he would follow the outline produced by the EU.Read more
The UK Government has decided to begin the negotiations to leave the EU next week:
These negotiations will begin without a plan, in fact, almost without a government since it does not seem likely that a deal with the DUP will be concluded beforehand.
Theresa May and David Davis are simply out of their depth but clearly intend to carry on regardless. This is not sustainable.
As the anniversary of the votes to remain within the EU, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and leave the EU, in England and Wales, looms, I think we are closer than ever to seeing that the circle cannot be squared and the penny has to drop.Read more
After a rollercoaster week in a rollercoaster year, I think it important to keep on and publish today's update. Brexit, whatever it may turn into, remains the defining issue of politics in these islands for the foreseeable future, and I remain at my post. The overnight election result has, I suspect, made it even more complex than it already was, and I will be in Strasbourg on Monday to continue our preparations as best we can.Read more
This week the EU quietly released two policy papers which lay out in great detail the EU 27’s stance on citizens’ rights and the financial settlement.
The paper on essential principles on citizens' rights can be read here:
and the paper on the essential principles on the financial settlement here:
This includes a list of all the EU bodies for which the UK has some financial responsibility (including around 40 agencies). These show, once again the level of transparency that the EU is committed to. They also illustrate how well prepared the EU is for the negotiations ahead.
The contrast to the UK’s ‘make it up as we go along’ stance could not be starker.
In a sad week, the outrage which took place in Manchester is almost beyond comprehension. It goes without saying that our thoughts have been with the victims, their families and friends, and the emergency services. Across the EU flags were lowered and people gathered to pay their respects and emphasise their solidarity:Read more
Sitting in Strasbourg this week debating the future of the EU negotiations whilst watching the UK General Election unfold was a surreal experience. The clock is ticking, we only have two years yet Theresa May has triggered Article 50 and then decided to waste precious time. It is a truly remarkable dereliction of duty.
Obviously, Theresa May could have held the election before triggering Article 50. This would have given her the maximum time to negotiate but instead she is playing politics with people’s lives. Remember – whatever the Tory manifesto asserts – a no deal WTO scenario would be disastrous for Scotland and the UK.
This week in the European Parliament there was an important joint hearing organised by the committees of Civil Liberties, Employment and Petitions. Many MEPs have emphasised the “moral duty” on all sides to end the uncertainty created for both EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals in the EU.
What we need to change the weather on this is a unilateral act of generosity. On past record of Theresa May as Home Secretary and indeed as Prime Minister, I don’t think we’re going to see that from the UK Government.
If we agree that that act of generosity is in the interest of our citizens, surely the call should come from our parliament for that unilateral act of generosity to guarantee the rights of UK nationals across the EU.
That will put, I hope, intolerable pressure on the UK Government to change its tone, to change its rhetoric, and to match that ambition and generosity.
You can see my contribution here:
and watch the interview with me afterwards here:
Earlier in the week I was delighted by the result over the weekend from France, where Centrist Emmanuel Macron won a decisive victory over the Front National’s Marine Le Pen in the French Presidential election, 66% to 34%. This was good news for Europe and bad news for the fascists, even if the fact they were in the second round at all should give us pause. But a win is a win is a win, and after the seemingly endless gut punch that was 2016, we can be forgiven for focusing on a bit of cheery news for a change.
As always, I hope you continue to find these emails useful, and please do feel free to share this update and encourage people to register for more at www.alynsmith.eu/stay_informed.